While visiting James and Roger Deakins’ “Team Deakins” podcast this month, Steve McQueen and Denis Villeneuve’s longtime editor Joe Walker was asked to name the one thing he dislikes most about the editing he sees nowadays in films and television series. Walker, an Oscar nominee for Best Film Editing thanks to his work on “12 Years a Slave” and “Arrival,” said he’s most annoyed by over-cutting, which he’s seeing more and more of thanks to streaming television series.
“When I am enjoying a film I just don’t see editing,” Walker said. “I find over-cutting is just the curse of what I see on television, in particular on streaming shows. It’s just reactions shoehorned in everywhere and fast cutting for no reason. I feel like somebody is dragging me. I feel like I’m being manipulated and I reject that. That’s the worst mistake [in editing], for me.”
Walker said over-cutting was also apparent in a recent Academy Award winner for Best Film Editing, adding, “I won’t say who, but there is a film that won an Oscar very recently that had this ridiculous amount of cutting just to show someone sitting down at the table. Yes, it’s kinetic, but it doesn’t feel good. It feels like I’m being fed bad food. I prefer restraint and strategic thinking about when to cut.”
While he didn’t mention the Oscar winner by name, it’s very possible Walker is referring to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The Freddie Mercury drama won the Best Film Editing prize over the likes of “The Favourite” and “BlacKkKlansman,” but its win was met with backlash over the amount of over-cutting that was featured in certain scenes. The “someone sitting down at a table” scene Walker mentioned most likely refers to the “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene where Queen band members sit down to meet soon-to-be manager John Reid. The disorienting amount of edits in the scene made the film’s Oscar win for Best Film Editing a point of contention among cinephiles.
Walker’s most recent credits are “Widows” and “Blade Runner 2049.” The editor is currently working with Denis Villeneuve once again on his upcoming “Dune” adaptation, scheduled for release from Warner Bros. on December 18.